If you ever find yourself face-to-udder with a cow, you might find yourself having a hard time actually getting milk from your bovine companion. It's not as easy as it looks, especially if there's a milking machine involved. And if the cow is cranky, it can be downright dangerous. So before you try your hand at milking a cow, here are some tips.
Always approach the cow slowly. Speak in a low voice and gently pat her side so that she knows where you are. Don't make any sudden movements. The idea is to let her know where you are. If you surprise her, she might panic and you might get stepped on or kicked.
Some cows will only stand still if they're given grain or hay to munch on while you go about your business. If your cow is this demanding, keep an eye on her food. Be ready to replenish it, or else she'll let you know she wants more by becoming restless and difficult to work with.
If you're milking by hand and you haven't had experience doing it on a daily basis, your hands will get tired. A single cow can generate up to 10 gallons in one sitting. You take a break but you run the risk of the cow getting impatient and fidgety (which is not good).
Some people prefer to use udder cream on their hands as they milk.
Cracked teats irritate cows - treat with Bag Balm (lanolin).
Some cows lift their back leg and kick over their bucket or knock off the suction devices. Have the handle positioned so you can grab the bucket should she decide to kick the bucket.
The milking machine doesn't hurt the cow. If you're not sure, stick your finger in the suction device. It's strong, but it does not cause pain. It mimics the suckling of a calf.
Kids can practice by "milking" a latex glove filled tightly with water and tied in a knot at the opening. Make tiny holes with a needle at the fingers.
The stream of milk that squirts out should be solid. If it's split, as if there's an obstruction in the milk duct, the cow might have mastitis, which will need to be treated. If mastitis is suspected, shoot the first few streams into a fine strainer and look for clumps. If there are clumps, seek appropriate treatment. The clumps can look a lot like giant globs of snot.
Tying the cow's tail to her leg will prevent her from swishing you with it. Tail hair does not tie well, and it will come loose after a few minutes. Do not tie her tail to your leg - this can lead to a trip to the hospital (yeah - I did that once - ONCE).
If you have an ornery cow, she's probably smarter than you and will delight in taunting and frustrating you. Keep your cool and outsmart her.